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dinner for picky & adventurous eaters alike?

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I'll be visiting New York from Boston in a few weeks, and am meeting a few friends for dinner on a Saturday night. There will be 4 of us - 1 is an extremely picky eater, the rest of us are fairly adventurous. The picky eater will do American, Italian, or Mexican, and I could maybe convince her to go for not-too-exotic Asian or other Latin American fare.

I'm looking for something basically between Houston and 30th streets; either side of town is fine. Our friends live in Gramercy, and we'll be going to a bar in the West Village later that evening.

Any ideas? Something affordable-ish would be great - I guess entrees in the $20s or so.

As someone who hasn't lived in New York in years, the options are pretty overwhelming. Thanks for any guidance!

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  1. Cacio e Vino (2nd Ave, btw 4th/5th St) fits all your criteria...reasonably priced Sicilian...some Sicilian specialties w/ fennel and fruit and nuts and seafood for the more Chowish eaters; plenty of simple pastas for the less adventurous...it's also a cute place -- woodsy, small, nice staff...

    1. If you can score a rez at Babbo, it's very solid for the adventurous/not-so-much combination. Those of you game for it can get head cheese, tripe, lamb tongues, octopus, brains, etc. Those not-so-adventurous... lots of pasta and traditional entree items. Apps are in the teens, pastas tend to be in the mid-20s, entrees are mostly around $29 with a few higher or lower. And it's in the Village, so right where you want to be.

      Also in that area is Empellon Taqueria - creative Mexican, great cocktails. Their East Village location (Empellon Cocina) has a more interesting menu, though.

      Chinese would be another good option. Most of the better Cantonese restaurants serve dishes family-style, but at a place like Fuleen you could get a bunch of straightforward (but very good) dishes, and perhaps add something more esoteric for the rest of you - they're famous for their geoduck, though that particular dish is a bit of a splurge. But there are also dishes, with, say, "1,000 year" eggs and the like that might appeal.

      Jehangir Mehta's two places - Graffiti and Mehtaphor - have very creative food, and nothing's over $20 at either of them. I prefer the former over the latter, but they're both good.

      Wylie Dufresne's new place Alder could be fun - it's adventurous in presentation but working with familiar flavors (i.e. a pastrami sandwich reimagined as rye pasta with pastrami crumbs, clam chowder with "oyster crackers" made from actual oysters, stuff like that...) - prices are reasonable but they're kind of in the "small plates" style so they can add up. But it's a fun place to graze the menu and try a lot of different things. Same can be said for Pearl & Ash, young talented chef (who used to work for Dufresne, IIRC) doing fun small plates.

      Speaking of small plates, I'd say another good option might be Toro - but, y'know, if you're coming from Boston, no point in that...

      1. Lots of good suggestions here. I'll add another.

        Trestle on Tenth. The chef/owner is Swiss and that's reflected in a lot of the dishes. That said, there's plenty of things on the menu for a picky eater.

        NY Mag blurb -

        Menu -

        1. The Dutch
          Blue Ribbon Bakery and/or Brasserie

          2 Replies
          1. re: thegforceny

            Blue Ribbon is a good call (if not terribly adventurous, although I suppose the bone marrow counts as such to some)

            Scarpetta - love 'em, but they're definitely not "affordable-ish" with "entrees in the $20s or so" - unless everybody orders the chicken.

            1. re: sgordon

              Actually, that chicken is ain't bad. Better than all the rest of the secondis we had in Scarpetta. I would consider splitting or skipping a main here anyway after the bread basket, apps, pasta fest.
              Same idea for Maialino

          2. Rockmeisha would work- japanese izakaya with fried chicken and chicken teriyaki for your friend and more adventurous items- like pig's toe (?!)

            1. Lots of great ideas here - Hopefully one of them will work!

              I'm leaning toward Empellon Taqueria or The Dutch (if we can get a reservation - this is for April 12) - mostly because the party is around 8th and MacDougal and both are very close by.

              1. Tell the picky eater to eat before she meets up for you all. Problem solved!